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topic 18163

Roofing nails-galvanized vs. zinc/nickel plated


Recently had new composite shingle roof installed & contract specified 'galvanized' nails. Nails used appear to be zinc or nickel plated (shiny like chrome). Did I receive an inferior product & what is the cost differential?

William H. Patrick
- Georgetown, Texas


Galvanizing is zinc coating. Generally, nails are finished using a hot dip galvanizing method, meaning they are immersed in a bath of molten zinc. If the nails are shiny, it's just a good, even coating. The cost of nickel plating nails for a roof would be incredibly expensive. It is an industry standard to use galvanized nails for roofing. It protects the steel in the nails from rusting since zinc is sacrificial to the steel in the case of corrosion. In summary, it sounds like you got what you were supposed to get.

Dan Brewer
chemical process supplier - Gurnee, Illinois

November 12, 2010

Thanks, Dan. Yes, it certainly is a good idea to use galvanized nails for roofing, and nickel plated nails would be incredibly expensive while not as good. However, many roofers now use zinc plated nails rather than hot dip galvanized nails, and they are not nearly as corrosion resistant because the zinc is not nearly as thick. They call these zinc electroplated nails "electro galvanized" and I'm not so sure that that term isn't just an attempt to ride the coattails of the superior hot dip galvanized finish.

I am not a roofing expert, but in my limited experience with roofing nails, the hot dipped nails are matte gray and drippy looking whereas the zinc plated nails are indeed bright and shiny. Please see letter 15142 for a great contribution from a professional roofer who uses only galvanized nails and claims that few other roofers use them so they are hard to find.


Ted Mooney,
Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
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